Saturday, March 5, 2016

Goodbye to Downton Abbey: Cheese and Chive Gougeres

Well after more episodes than I can count, Downton Abbey is coming to an end tomorrow night. No more tears, cliffhangers, weddings, formal dinners, period costumes, and one line zingers courtesy of the Dowager Contess. Just like when Oprah signed off, I will have to somehow fill the void that the Crawley's absence will certainly leave.

I've made no secret of the fact that I felt the writing in the past couple of years was less than what I believe it could have been. Julian Fellows was just never able to measure up to the first couple of seasons in my opinion. I mean when you open a series with a handsome man dying in the "virginal" Lady Mary's bed, well, that's just hard to follow up, especially when you sprinkle in a love affair between the Irish chauffeur and the youngest daughter.

I will also grant him a good, juicy plot line when Lady Edith found herself in the family way and all alone following the disappearance of her married lover. Oh what a tangled web we weave! I really wish he wouldn't have whisked Edith away to Switzerland, only to fast forward the story line to a time in the future when her baby was a toddler and she was learning to deal with her sad, lonely life. I would have preferred that he let us steep a bit longer in that juicy predicament.

So what's a girl to do when her love/hate relationship with her favorite Sunday night television show is coming to a close? She wishes them well in the style in which they are accustomed, with dainty nibbles, lots of bubbly and a box of tissues.

My plan is this. I will curl up on my cozy sofa with a glass of cold champagne and some cheese gougeres, and cheer on the Crawley household as they fade off into the distance. I really don't know if gougeres would have been served at Downton, but I love them and they do seem a little posh. Besides, I feel like with this snack I will be ready for any wedding, birth or death that might be thrown my way.

Cheese and Chive Gougeres

You can really use any sharp flavored cheese that you like but the harder the cheese, the crisper the gougere. For and extra bit of zing, reserve about 1/4 of the Swiss and sprinkle it over during the last 15 minutes of baking.

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1 pinch cayenne powder
1 cup water
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Swiss

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, garlic, mustard and cayenne: set aside.

Pour water in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and salt and bring to a boil. Once the butter is melted, add the flour all at once. Stir the mixture well until it is a thick ball of dough that pulls away from the side of the pan. Continue stirring over the heat for another 2 minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky.

At this point you can remove the dough from the heat and add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. OR, you can transfer the batter to a food processor and process adding the eggs one at a time. Add the chives, Parmesan and Swiss while pulsing until it is incorporated.

Transfer dough to a large pastry bag and pipe onto a non-stick baking sheet or one that has been covered in parchment. You can also drop dough onto sheet pan by heaping teaspoons.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 20 - 25 minutes or until they are a golden brown.

Remove gougeres from the oven and bore a small hole in the side with a paring knife so that the steam can escape. Return to the oven, turn off the heat and leave for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve while warm.

Makes about 30 - 36 bite size gougeres.